By Wendy Jo Moyer
“I was attending school in the city during 9/11, and that day and the aftermath have become ingrained in who I am and my lifelong solidarity as a New Yorker,” shared Jeannie Rodriguez, who was born and raised in New York City.
“When I first moved to Florida, I was a bit shell shocked with the lack of diversity and stagnation around me,” she recounted. “When I found Valencia, it was the breath of fresh air I was looking for.”
To Jeannie, Valencia signifies opportunity, diversification and growth to the community. “People from all walks of life end up here, be it as students, employees or visitors,” she noted. “For many, Valencia is a crossroad in their lives — whether getting a degree, changing careers, learning a new language or trying to figure it out as they go, they know that this is the place they need to be to get there.”
Jeannie started at Valencia as a part-time library support specialist in 2006, and two years later, she became the College’s first library office systems manager, the position she is proud to hold today. In this role, she helps coordinate processes and practices for the West Campus Library; develops and evaluates office procedures and work flow; supervises staff; coordinates hiring and orientation of new employees; coordinates work schedules; and provides oversight of the budget.
Ruth Smith, campus director, library, and Jeannie’s supervisor, complimented, “Jeannie does indeed do great work and is a huge asset to Valencia College. I rely every day on her institutional knowledge on everything from budget to security. Her committee work for the College benefits the library greatly, such as her recent work on the ID committee. Circulation and the Aleph library system could not run without her.”
Beyond her role in the library, Jeannie is busy participating in opportunities to improve her knowledge and supervisory skills. Jeannie is part of this year’s PIVOT 180 cohort, which started in January. “I am excited to see what experiences, knowledge and opportunities it has in store,” she said.
Jeannie also participated in Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED). “This was such a wonderful experience, with incredible facilitators, that I had to go back for more,” she exclaimed. “As such, I’m currently participating in the SEED II cohort. It’s been a great opportunity to not only meet people from all over the College but to get to know them in a significant way as we learn how to create more inclusive educational spaces.”
And, she even taught a session at the West Campus 2016 Learning Day with two colleagues titled, “Upcycling — Breathing New Life Into New Books.”
“I’ve recently started my own crafting/upcycling endeavors, which was fueled by being a part of the library for so long and seeing how much paper gets thrown out such as books, magazines, etc.,” she said. If you missed the Learning Day session, she plans to host another session in the West Campus Library soon.
It isn’t surprising that what Jeannie likes most about working at Valencia is the people. “I can genuinely say that on a daily basis I work with a group of phenomenal individuals who are always ready and willing to help. Not only that, but they are so innovative and resourceful,” she shared. “Life is not just about getting from point A to B, but the connections you make along the way. The connections I’ve made with my work family are ones that I cherish and make me look forward to coming to work every day.”
And when it comes to Valencia’s “people” that inspire her, it’s not just our employees, it’s the students too. “I have met such exceptional people with unbelievable stories. It seems like every year I get to meet at least one student who inspires me to question the limitations we set on ourselves and remember that where there is a will, there is a way. It’s been gratifying and humbling to be a part of their journeys,” she admitted.
Jeannie is a mom to two beautiful little girls, ages 6 and 10 months. During her last pregnancy, she learned so much about the benefits of breastfeeding that she has become a lactation activist. “I support and promote breastfeeding and ending discrimination against breastfeeding through social media (#normalizebreastfeeding), and however else I can given my busy schedule,” she revealed.
“I am amazed at the great job and life balance she is able to achieve,” Ruth added. “She is a great mom and a really good person in addition to being a great employee.”
Jeannie received an Associate in Arts from Valencia and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Central Florida, and she is looking forward to expanding her educational degrees.
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.